There really is no other way to say this but with utter honesty: my almost three-year-old is NOT sleeping through the night.
I know, I know. Cue shock and horror and pitying glances. Don’t worry, I’m rather used to this by now. Pretty much everyone who knows that the toddler doesn’t STTN reacts this way and then tells me that every other child would have slept through the night by XYZ months/years.
Once upon a time, I was obsessed with his sleep. When he would only catnap during the day, I panicked, thinking that I had done something wrong. When he went into a sleep regression and never came out of it, I despaired at the notion of waking up 2, 3, 8 times a night.
I tried everything. We had a pretty solid bedtime routine of bath-books-nurse-lights out since he was two months old. I even switched the order around so that he wouldn’t be nursed to sleep because the experts said I was creating a poor sleep association. We put him in his cot. With a white noise machine. With curtains that cut out light. Earlier bedtime. Night weaning. With air-con. With fan. In the cot. On a floor bed. On a single bed. We really tried everything, EVERYTHING.
Well, nothing worked.
He did sleep through the night for about a week right before Zac was born. Nothing changed, he just managed to sleep from 9pm to 630am all on his own. But that went out of the window with the arrival of his baby brother and since then, we have never repeated that feat.
But you know what? We really don’t care.
The truth is, I think babies just sleep the way they do. To a certain extent, we have an influence over how they sleep. But ultimately, their personality dictates their sleeping habits. Some babies just sleep better than others. Others react better to sleep training. Truly, every child is different.
Do I regret not sleep training my son? No. We are not fans of crying it out, controlled or otherwise, and I am convinced that it would not have worked on him anyway. Because of the way he is, he would have cried and cried and cried and cried and never stopped. He’s just that sort of boy who is sensitive and loves snuggling up to papa and mama. He’s like me, physical touch is one of his love languages.
These days, he goes to sleep pretty fast – but only if mama is lying next to him and he has his hand on my tummy. I KNOW. It’s hilarious! And so terrible! I mean, he is NOT falling asleep on his own – the horror. And because of this, he will NEVER be able to go to sleep without his hand on my tummy. EVAR.
Anyway, we are kinda enjoying this bedtime routine now. The husband and I take this as our little moments to share with Aidan, just like how it used to be before Zac joined our family (the littlest is usually asleep by 8-830pm). I like to take the time to cuddle and kiss my first-born, to fill up his love tank.
And similarly, we have adopted a pretty laid-back attitude towards Zac’s sleep as well. That boy is just as terrible as his older brother – little catnaps here and there, wakes up multiple times a night. I never bothered counting, I just want to go back to sleep as quickly as possible!
So yes. If you are like me with a child (or two) who is a poor sleeper, hang in there. Do not, for even a second, think that it’s because of something you did. It’s not. It’s them. We do what we can to get through the sleep deprivation, whether it’s sleep training or not, but at the end of the day, we need to remember that it’s only a problem if we find it a problem. We just to have tune out the naysayers and do what we can.
After all, we are the best parents for our kids and these people are not the ones soothing our babies at 3am, are they?